The chasm between

Too often there is a chasm between our ideas and knowledge on the one hand and our actual experience on the other. We absorb trivia and information that take up mental space but get us nowhere. We read books that divert us but have little relevance to our daily lives. We have lofty ideas that we do not put into practice. We also have many rich experiences that we do not analyze enough, that do not inspire us with ideas, whose lessons we ignore. Strategy requires a constant contact between the two realms.

~ Robert Greene

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Never how it actually goes

This is one of the main obstacles to forming habits. Our hopeful idea of how it will go, and then our disappointment and frustration with ourselves when it doesn’t go that way.

~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/perfectionism/

Nerd alert: I’ve always appreciated that Babauta takes the time to craft the URL paths (often called the “slug”) by hand. They’re not simply auto-generated from the titles of the posts. I love that this particular one, about perfectionism, has a single-word slug that contains the word “perfect”.

While writing this post I spun off to discover Grammar Monster. Yikes! Driven by my perfectionism, that’s the sort of thing that I could spend hours in. I backed away from it very slowly.

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Time amplifies

The small choices we make on a daily basis either work for us or against us. One choice puts time on your side. The other ensures it’s working against you. Time amplifies what you feed it.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/small-steps-giant-leaps/

I don’t truly know if I’m unique. For me, the only way I can manage to feel as if I’ve enough time in my day is if I’m ruthless with myself about not giving my time away. I’ve spent so many decades feeling harried and busy… only to realize, duh, I did that to myself. I’ve spent so many dark days simply wanting some peace… only to realize, duh, all this craziness, I chose that. Somehow, I managed to slowly let this same idea Parrish mentions seep into my bones. Now I feel like I’m able to relax and simply experience being, through most of my days. Sometimes, I even take naps. My 25-year-old self would be horrified.

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Pathways

It’s the relative appeal of the two paths that determines which one you take. You can equalize these by improving the intended path (making public transit better), obstructing the desire path (making driving worse), or a combination.

~ “Dynomight” from, https://dynomight.net/paths/

This article starts with a simple concept and then iteratively goes far into the weeds to see where else it can be applied. I love minds which explore that way. I have so many habits, idiosyncrasies, and ancient brain quirks that it’s a miracle I ever get anything done. Everything figuratively within my reach is wearing down and coming undone, (entropy wins in the end.) I’ll take any opportunity—as this article suggests—to tip things towards my desired path.

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Going full circle

No matter where your adventure takes you, most of what is truly meaningful is still to be found revolving around the mundane stuff you did before you embarked on your adventure. The stuff that’ll be still be going on long after you and I are both dead, long after our contribution to the world is forgotten.But often, one needs to have that big adventure before truly appreciating this. Going full circle. Exactly.

~ Hugh MacLeod from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2008/06/25/meaning-scales-people-dont/

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Rescuing life from productivity

And so we get to the crux of our human predicament — the underbelly of our anxiety about every unanswered email, every unfinished project, and every unbegun dream: Our capacities are limited, our time is finite, and we have no control over how it will unfold or when it will run out. Beyond the lucky fact of being born, life is one great sweep of uncertainty, bookended by the only other lucky certainty we have. It is hardly any wonder that the sweep is dusted with so much worry and we respond with so much obsessive planning, compulsive productivity, and other touching illusions of control.

~ Maria Popova from, https://www.themarginalian.org/2021/12/20/four-thousand-weeks-oliver-burkeman/

For years I’ve been finding myself judging my day, each evening as I go to sleep. I lie down, and try as I might, my thoughts go beyond simply reviewing. I tried to stop doing the judging part, to no avail.

There’s a Steve Jobs quote about asking himself a question each morning, and that’s great, (but not something I do.) I realized that I’m asking myself that question at the end of each day after closing my eyes to beckon sleep:

If that was the last day of my life, am I satisfied with what I did?

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Choose two

Life is about tradeoffs. When we know what to say no to, and we know why, we can say yes with comfort and confidence to the things that matter. To the things that last. Work, family, scene. You can have two if you say no to one. If you can’t, you’ll have none.

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/work-family-scene/

The words “work”, “family”, and “scene” are of course maleable. I’d argue there’s a fourth—”self” or “health” would be the word I’d choose—and the admonition should be expanded to, “choose any three.” None the less, there something that feels to me very true about it being necessary, in the way the gravity is necessary to obey, about picking two of those three. There was a time when I chose work and scene. It was interesting, for a while. It wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. What’s your list, and which are you choosing?

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Change is good

Total efficiency constrains us. We become super invested in maintaining the status quo because that is where we excel. Innovation is a threat. Change is terrifying. Being perfect at something is dangerous if it’s the only thing you can do.

~ Shane Parrish from, https://fs.blog/2019/01/getting-ahead-inefficient/

Change is good. (Although, Don Draper’s comment stands, making a different point.) Today I’m making a big change to some of my personal routines. I want different results than I’m currently getting… or pessimistic-me would say, I want some results rather than the none I’m currently getting. I’m not going to dive into what exactly I’m changing.

Instead, I want to touch on the how I’m changing things. I imagined a blank slate— a day with nothing. Then, what’s something I’d like to do? Okay, let’s put that into my day, (or week, month, life, etc..) Then, what’s something I keep “falling into?” …some habit that I see repeating, which I want to avoid. Okay, put something in which blocks that habit. One might have some non-negotiable blocks. (I’ll point out that those are not truly non-negotiable. They’re just costly to change.) Okay, I’ll put those back into my day.

The hard part is not putting too much back in. It’s the same as with packing my bag for a trip. I set out what I want to take. Then I pack the bag. I assess the degree of over-stuffage. (Notice the verb “to lug” lies within “luggage.”) Next, I unpack the bag, and reduce things. Finally, I repack the bag.

So, when is the last time you dumped out your luggage?

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If only

The day is actually quite spacious, if we don’t try to overfill it.

~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/unrushed/

It took me far too long to learn this lesson. Or, perhaps I should practice improving my self-talk: I’m so glad I understand this now. For a couple months early in 2022 I had a sticky-note about “urgency?” on my monitor. That had a profound effect on me. Is the house on fire? …okay, then where is the urgency coming from? Hint, Craig: You brought the urgency to the situation.

But, why? Why does the urgency creep in for me? I make long (long loong) arguments out in my mind about how each of the things that I’m doing, represents an intentional choice. At one time, I used to allow other people to choose for me. (I know, right… That’s nuts.) But these days, I’m working out the lesson that just because I choose, that doesn’t mean it’s a good choice. One choice, two choices, three choices, four, five, six… and the day is over-full. Quick! All these things need to be done—I chose them. Hello, urgency.

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